Five-day search fails to find hiker

An exhausted group of climbers was sent home on Saturday night after their five-day sweep of Mt. Hood failed to turn up any trace of a lost hiker.

"The search and rescue people were very diligent about their mission but our decision was based on the fact that they had done all they could do in the survivable areas," said Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler.

He said about 200 experienced mountaineers volunteered their time from dawn on Tuesday to about 9 p.m. on Saturday. These individuals represented numerous regional search teams who offered to help comb the slopes from Laurance Lake to Mt. Hood Meadows in a quest to find Karoly Orsi, 24, of Budapest, Hungary. Orsi, who had arrived in the United States three weeks before on an agricultural exchange program, was reported missing late Monday evening.

He had parted from his colleagues at Tilly Jane Campground about 6 a.m. that morning for what was to have been a 12-hour exploration of the northeastern wilderness area. At the time of his departure he was dressed only in blue jeans and a black T-shirt, but it is believed he was carrying a raincoat and a small amount of food and water in his daypack. He did not disclose to his fellow campers the direction he intended to take nor did he register at any of the trailheads in the vicinity.

"It is important for inexperienced people not to go up the mountain alone," said Wampler.

According to the sheriff, Orsi's family members claimed that he had always had a strong fascination with mountain climbing, snow and ice. Law enforcement officials believe that the young horticulturist may have hiked up to Cooper Spur Ridge and then, because of good weather conditions, ascended into the glacial area near the summit. Because that rugged terrain is crisscrossed with deep crevasses and steep cliffs, Wampler said Orsi may have fallen into a ravine and been unable to climb out because he was too badly injured or unable to navigate the vertical incline.

When the weather took a turn for the worse on both Tuesday and Wednesday, Wampler said the cold temperatures would have "drastically reduced" Orsi's chances of survival. Because ground searchers knew Orsi wasn't dressed for the howling winds and mixed snow/rain, they braved the elements to go as far up the mountain as safety allowed.

On Wednesday night the 304 Airforce Reserve Rescue Squadron from Portland used infrared sensors for a night scan of the mountainside but were unable to pinpoint the missing man.

On Saturday, which dawned clear and sunny, searchers mounted a last full-scale effort that included canine units and a return of surveillance aircraft.

"We looked in all the places he would most likely go, the places he might have gone and then the ones we thought he absolutely wouldn't go to," said Wampler.

He said Orsi's missing person report has now been filed in law enforcement data banks and hikers on Mt. Hood are being asked to watch for any sign that he passed in the same direction. The sheriff's department is still following up on leads they have received from all sides of the mountain.

Wampler said it is against state law for climbers to hike beyond the timberline without a communication device, such as a handheld radio or a cell phone. He said because of its elevation, the mountain frequently "makes its own weather" and all adventurers need to have the necessary emergency supplies to spend a night outdoors, even if they only intend to take a short hike.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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